Reflective Commentary Assignment 5 and final reflections on the course.

I began this part of the course by getting all my work out and laying it out on the floor. Wow! No wonder it all took so long, I hadn’t realised how much there was! It was particularly interesting to see the development progressing throughout the course and remind myself how far I have come.

I selected a few samples and techniques that I had particularly enjoyed doing. These were: Appliqué, printing, weaving and the machine stitched colour mixing samples from the beginning of the course. I quickly decided that although I had enjoyed the weaving, I was not comfortable enough with the processes as yet to use it to make a final item.

My theme book I feel had enough material for me to create a huge range of items using the work within it as a source. It led me in a couple of unexpected directions. I had expected to find myself concentrating on complex patterns in shiny metallic colours. Instead I started to investigate rusty gears in particular. Especially their colour & texture and decided on simple bold pattern rather than intricate ones.

I am really pleased with the design work overall and feel that it works well made up into an item. There is a strong pattern, texture and line to it; yet it remains simple, uncluttered and dramatic. I feel it is a strong, coherent idea and I would perhaps like to use the design work to create other items such as bags & scarfs as a collection.

There is a continuous thread of development from my original drawings, source material and samples to the final designs it is particularly strong between the black and white images taken from my theme book and the final design, all be it with a different colour scheme.

I think the techniques I chose worked very well. I wanted to create a rusty texture and colours for the gears which I feel I have achieved by taking the slightly unusual route of using painted Bondaweb instead of fabric shapes with rough machine embroidery over them. This is in contrast to the soft background and iridescent beading which is a contrast that I feel works well and adds interest to the overall piece.

I feel the piece is coherent as a development from my original drawings and samples and is relatively inventive considering the constraint of being wearable. Traditional wet felting was not an option with this piece due to the choice of Bondaweb and the need therefore to have a chiffon layer which will not felt in. To overcome this I used an embellishing machine to blend the fabrics together. This worked particularly well, it is difficult to see where the chiffon ends and the felt begins. The mix of techniques and fabrics chosen is slightly outside the norm but they work together well to achieve an outcome that I am pleased with.

I am actually a little sad to be at the end of this course. It was not easy to work through at times and I know that the OCA are reviewing the course materials at the moment to try and make it easier to understand and follow but it has strengthened the skills I already had as well as teaching me some new ones.

It has also been difficult to get through on a personal note. Having been quite unwell during the major part of the course and subsequently having to have a major operation towards the end of it, I am just pleased to have finished in a reasonable time and am really looking forward to the next OCA course. Hopefully without the drama next time!

The main things I have improved during this course are my critical skills, reviewing my work and that of others has helped me to gain a better understanding of where my work belongs in a wider sense. Things I still need to work on a lot are using a sketchbook regularly and time management.

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About Julie Hooker

Having recently returned to my roots in Surrey, I am currently studying a BA Hons degree with the OCA. My work is often inspired by the local countryside in the beautiful Surrey Hills area and the wild rugged nature of the North Cornish coast. Steam engines and abandoned industrial history are also recent themes. A free machine embroiderer and felt maker; I like to explore the use of natural, found materials to create my art, whether that be as raw materials to stitch or weave with or as a material with which to produce dye or print with. Previously, I completed City and Guilds parts 1 & 2 Creative Embroidery at the East Berkshire College in Windsor in 2007. I was also awarded first place in the wearable art section of the National Quilt Championships 2008 and 2009 held annually at Sandown Park.
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